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Richards warns Blue Jackets ‘we can’t just turn it on’ when season starts

Sep 17, 2013, 10:55 PM EDT

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The Columbus Blue Jackets face a new challenge in joining the Metropolitan Division via realignment, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that head coach Todd Richards is getting worked up about preseason games.

From Sunday to Tuesday, Richards has questioned his team’s efforts more than the results, emphasizing that they can’t just flip a switch when the regular season begins.

On Sunday, Richards downplayed an OT exhibition win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, bringing up the team’s Oct. 4 season opener.

“We can’t expect come Oct. 4 that we’re going to pick up right where we left off,” Richards said on Sunday. “We still have to work hard.”

Two days later, the Blue Jackets played a pair of preseason games, with one group beating the Minnesota Wild’s 3-1* and another losing to the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Richards sounded like a broken record after those games tonight.

“One thing concerns me: are we waiting for Oct. 4? We can’t just turn it on then,” Richards said. “Your effort should never be questioned at what you do. Everything we got last year was through our effort.”

So, to review: Richards thinks that the days before Oct. 4 are important, even if the games don’t count until then.

All joking aside, it’s an important message that other NHL head coaches are likely trying to send as well, Richards just happens to be sending it repeatedly in the media.

* – Interesting side note: assistant coach Craig Hartsburg raved about the split-squad he coached in Minnesota on Tuesday, so maybe Richards merely needs to get through to the other chunk of the team.

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